Boston-based autonomous vehicle startup Motional and Uber announced the launch of their public robotaxi service in Las Vegas, Nevada last week.
This means that for the first time ever, Uber customers are able to hail an autonomous ride using Motional's Hyundai Ioniq 5-based robotaxis. For now, the vehicles feature vehicle operators, but Motional and Uber aim to offer a fully driverless service to the public in 2023.
Uber customers in Las Vegas can hail a ride in a Motional robotaxi through the Uber app where they can select UberX or Uber Comfort Electric options. If an autonomous vehicle is available to complete the trip, Uber will match the rider to the vehicle and they will receive an offer to opt-in before the autonomous trip is confirmed and dispatched to pick them up.
"Today, Motional becomes the first AV company to conduct all-electric autonomous rides on the Uber network for public passengers. It's a testament to our technology and the power of our partnership with Uber that we're able to go from concept to consumer in such a short time. Las Vegas is the first of many cities in which Motional's AVs will become an everyday transportation option for Uber customers looking for a safe and convenient ride."
Akshay Jaising, Motional's Vice President of Commercialization
The service is the first in Motional and Uber's 10-year commercial partnership that will see Motional's Level 4 autonomous vehicles deployed for ride-hail and deliveries on the Uber network in major cities across the US. Following the launch of the public robotaxi service in Las Vegas, the two companies plan to bring it to Los Angeles at a later date.
The Las Vegas pilot comes a few months after Motional and Uber finalized their multi-year partnership, which is expected to create one of the largest deployments of AVs on a major ride-hail network with the potential to reach millions of Uber riders.
"We're thrilled to take this next step together in Las Vegas, and look forward to continuing to integrate autonomous technologies into the Uber network to grow our business by providing customers with additional reliable, affordable and effortless transportation and delivery options."
Noah Zych, Global Head of Autonomous Mobility and Delivery at Uber
The announcement marks the second autonomous service launch from Motional and Uber this year following the start of autonomous deliveries for Uber Eats customers in greater Los Angeles in May. This makes Motional the first autonomous vehicle company to conduct both deliveries and rides on a major network like Uber.
Motional, which is an autonomous driving joint venture between Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv, has also been operating a public robotaxi service in Las Vegas with Lyft since 2018.